It may seem like school just let out, but it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year! With back-to-school specials running all summer long, parents and students can start their shopping early and spread it out to avoid a hefty back-to-school shopping bill all at once.
Better Business Bureau offers up the following tips on how to shop smart when starting your back-to-school or back-to-college shopping:
Make a list
You can either wait for the school supplies list to come out, or start shopping without it. Even if you don’t have the exact list, you should have an idea of what to purchase regarding school clothes, and basic supplies. Jot everything down on a list and stick to it! Impulse buying can jack up your overall total in a hurry.
Shop your home
You may already have some of the items from last year hidden in your home. Why purchase the same thing twice?
Research big ticket items
Before purchasing that expensive laptop, tablet or dorm refrigerator, be sure to do your homework. Research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Also check the reputation of the retailer at bbb.org.
Look for the sales
Compare prices between different retail stores, save your coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of dough.
Ask for student discounts
Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students that have either an .edu email address or a student ID. Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Shop in bulk
Some teachers ask parents to buy bulk items for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Talk with other parents about what they’re getting, and see if you can all split the cost.
Know the return policies and save your receipts
Kids can be fickle. They can love a new shirt yesterday but hate it today. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item later.
Shop safely online:
- When shopping from an online website the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure, that way you know your information is being protected.
- Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.
- Be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
- Be extremely wary of any website or store that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.
- If you use Facebook you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just click bait ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store's website directly.